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Thai Protesters Rally at Foreign Ministry


Thousands of Thai protesters surrounded the government compound in Bangkok for a second day Wednesday as others demonstrated outside the foreign ministry.

Reports from the Thai capital say the street campaign is aimed at embarrassing the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva ahead of a summit of 10 Southeast Asian leaders that begins Friday.

The supporters of ousted Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra are demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Abhisit, the dissolution of parliament and new elections. They claim the new government undermines their democratic rights.

Hundreds of members of the United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) marched from the main government building, Government House, to the foreign ministry offices, calling for Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya to step down.

Kasit was one of the leaders of last year's massive protests by supporters of the anti-Thaksin People's Alliance for Democracy which brought Mr. Abhisit to power. He replaced Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat, who PAD protesters said was tied too closely to Mr. Thaksin.

The PAD protesters' siege of two major Bangkok airports in December forced organizers to postpone an ASEAN leaders summit that was originally scheduled for that month. The meeting was later rescheduled to begin this week.

Mr. Thaksin was ousted from office in 2006. Since then, Thai politics have largely been in a state of turmoil.

About 20,000 of Mr. Thaksin's supporters surrounded Government House Tuesday, but the numbers were lower early Wednesday, allowing Prime Minister Abhisit to enter the government compound Wednesday without incident.

Organizers say the rally is planned to go on for three days.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.


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